NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Why Inflation Rose and Fell: Policymakers' Beliefs and US Postwar Stabilization Policy

Giorgio Primiceri

NBER Working Paper No. 11147
Issued in February 2005
NBER Program(s):   ME

This paper provides an explanation for the run-up of U.S. inflation in the 1960s and 1970s and the sharp disinflation in the early 1980s, which standard macroeconomic models have difficulties in addressing. I present a model in which rational policymakers learn about the behavior of the economy in real time and set stabilization policy optimally, conditional on their current beliefs. The steady state associated with the self-confirming equilibrium of the model is characterized by low inflation. However, prolonged episodes of high inflation ending with rapid disinflations can occur when policymakers underestimate both the natural rate of unemployment and the persistence of inflation in the Phillips curve. I estimate the model using likelihood methods. The estimation results show that the model accounts remarkably well for the evolution of policymakers' beliefs, stabilization policy and the postwar behavior of inflation and unemployment in the United States.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w11147

Published: Primiceri, Giorgio. “Why Inflation Rose and Fell: Policymakers’ Beliefs and US Postwar Stabilization Policy.” The Quarterly Journal of Economics 121 (August 2006): 867-901.

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